Heroes, Season Three, Blu-ray, 5-Disc Set (2009)

by | Sep 14, 2009 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Heroes, Season Three, Blu-ray, 5-Disc Set (2009)

Starring: Hayden Panettiere, Greg Grunberg, Kristen Bell, Masi Oka, Ali Larter, Adrian Pasdar, Milo Ventimiglia, Zachary Quinto, Jack Coleman
Series Creator: Tim Kring
Studio: NBC/Universal 61106533 [Release date: Sept. 1, 09]
Video: 1.78:1 for 16:9, 1080p HD
Audio: DTS HD Master Audio 5.1, English DD 2.0
Extras: D-Box Motion Code Enabled, Deleted Scenes, Commentary, Featurettes, Image Galleries, Season 4 Sneak Peek, U-Control and BD Live Exclusives
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Episodes Total Length: 17 hours, 52 minutes
Rating: ***

created an incredible amount of buzz upon its debut in the 2006-2007 season, a major feat for what was essentially a cast of mostly unknowns. Actors Hayden Panettiere (indestructible cheerleader Claire Bennet) and Masi Oka (Hiro, the Japanese techno-geek) became instant celebrities, and the show attracted steady audiences not only from the superb writing and above-average acting, but also from its remarkably chic visual style. Season One concentrated on the back stories of the various superheroes and how they gained knowledge of their respective powers and each other. And as the season progressed, we were introduced to Sylar (Zachary Quinto), quite possibly the scariest bad guy on network television.

Season Two was shortened by the 2007-2008 writers’ strike, but thankfully tied up many loose ends left by Season One regarding the various characters. The heroes banded together to try to help avert a global pandemic, and a striking new bad guy is also introduced, Elle Bishop (played by Kristen Bell), who has devastatingly effective electrical powers. Unfortunately, Season Two suffered from the dreaded sophomore slump, and didn’t generate nearly the critical praise or viewer interest of Season One, and the show’s slumping ratings reflected that. The writing was weaker, and the characters just didn’t seem quite as compelling as they did the first time around – and maybe it’s not too unfair to point a shaky finger at the Writer’s Guild for some of those problems.

Season Three picks up where the previous season’s cliffhanger ending left it, with an unresolved assassination attempt, and unfortunately offers us precious little to identify either the victim or the assassin. Season Three also takes on a new twist, with the focus of the season split into two distinct halves. The first half of the season covers the worldwide proliferation of the villains, who are, of course, the bad guys, while the second half focuses on the fugitives – the heroes, who are increasingly being hunted, and not only by the sinister “Company.” Unfortunately, the writing for Season Three suffers from many of the maladies of the previous season – it was uninspiring, to say the least, and was mercifully shortened to just eleven episodes by the aforementioned writer’s strike. Season Three slogs through a full twenty-five episodes, and a striking lack of cohesion in the writing makes that nearly eighteen hours seem almost interminable! The writers seem to have abandoned almost everything that made Season One such a resounding success; every grain of genius that seems headed down a promising path is quickly extinguished by the further use of implausible and problematic story lines. And the lack of continuity is painfully obvious, with the writers introducing too many new characters and confusing subplots in a desperate (and seemingly futile) attempt to recapture the magic of Season One. Heroes has hit rock bottom, and with Season Four just around the corner, there’s really nowhere to go but hopefully up!

From a technical standpoint, the Heroes Season Three Blu-ray package is generally excellent. The visual look of the show is impressive, and the 1080p HD presentation offers magnificent color representation with crisp highly detailed images. There is some image grain that occasionally intrudes, but it is never excessive or too troubling. The DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 provides an immersive home theater experience; dialogue was clear and rear-to-front motion effects were impressive. Many of the action scenes would probably benefit significantly from the encoded D-Box effects (if I had it). And the five discs are crammed with extras – in addition to the usual array of commentary, featurettes and deleted scenes, there’s also BD Live content. [If anyone wants that last "feature" – now that I’ve got it hooked up, to me it’s as uninspiring as the writing for these particular DVDs…Ed.] The picture-in-a-picture content (Universal calls this “U-Control”) provided an amazing array of viewing options.

For the true fan, this is an incredibly comprehensive package, and offers an interesting (and exceptionally lengthy) viewing experience. Except for the less than stellar writing of Season Three, I’d have given this set four stars based on the impressive array of viewing options presented here. The Sneak Preview for Season Four looked really promising – let’s hope that Heroes can recapture some of the lost magic from its debut. This is recommended watching, but there’s a lot of it here – perhaps if your viewing schedule allows, repeated watching might help increase the overall cohesion of Season Three.

— Tom Gibbs


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